Ames dwarf (df/df) mice are deficient in anterior pituitary hormones: growth hormone (GH), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and prolactin (PRL) due to a spontaneous, homozygous mutation of prop1[superscript df] gene. These dwarf mice exhibit characteristics such as delayed growth and development coupled with delayed aging, increased lifespan, overall increased insulin sensitivity, as well as resistance to certain diseases and cancers. The mutant mice possess low blood glucose, low serum insulin, and lower body temperature. Their enhanced longevity (about 40-60% longer lifespan than normal mice) is associated with their GH deficiency and disruption in the somatotropic axis (GH/IGF-1 hormonal pathway) as well as increased insulin sensitivity, which is supported by other mutant mouse models for longevity like Snell dwarfs and growth hormone receptor knock-out (GHRKO) mice. When young male Ames dwarf mice were treated with GH replacement therapy, they showed increased body growth to nearly match the normal mouse phenotype. In conjunction to an increase in physical growth, however, GH treatment also decreases the longevity and insulin sensitivity that are characteristic of these mice to levels seen in normal mice. Because of the lack of TSH, they also have undetectable levels of Thyroxine (T4). While T4 treatment didn't increase bodyweight of dwarfs to the same extent as GH treatment, the T4 treated mice retained their enhanced lifespan. Although df/df mice have enhanced whole-body insulin sensitivity, the male skeletal muscle was previously shown to be less responsive to insulin than their liver. In our study we analyzed the insulin signaling pathway in skeletal muscle from female mice after treatment with GH or GH combined with T4. Gene expression and protein expression were investigated in the skeletal muscle of female Ames dwarf mice that were treated with GH or GH and T4 therapy. Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) was used to analyze the expression of mRNA involved with insulin and GH signaling, while western blots were used to analyze protein expression. This project found that female Ames skeletal muscle didn't respond to GH treatment to the same extent as males, and that GH and T4 treatment tends to neutralize the effects seen in GH-only treatment.


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Thesis Completion





Masternak, Michal M.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Degree Program

Molecular Biology and Microbiology


Dissertations, Academic -- Medicine; Medicine -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis